Soldier’s Paradise United States Riviera Recreational Area


Scarce map of the French Riviera published for servicemen on leave during WWII.

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In 1945, a sign hung in the lobby of the United States Riviera Recreational Area (the publishers of this map) that read “GI Paradise, Off Limits to Officers.” That’s exactly what the area on this map was to the enlisted troops who suffered through the terrible fight for France. Granted a temporary reprieve from the war, men flooded to the Red Cross Clubs that were formerly grandiose casinos and spent their time golfing, dancing, drinking, gambling and ogling the French women. One soldier described it as such – “If a soldier wants to sleep for 48 hours, he can sleep for 48 hours; if the weather’s too warm and he doesn’t want to wear a tie, he doesn’t wear a tie; if he wants to go on a seven-day drunk, he’s crazy.”

Vignettes illustrate potential points of interest to the soldier, ranging from innocuous to risqué and including Lido Beach, the Copacabana Club and the Angleterre Hotel. The quote in the middle is literal – nearly every (legal) opportunity available was provided free of charge, sponsored by the armed services, the American Red Cross (ARC) and other supporting organizations. Tours were included, and soldiers could travel to perfume factories, shopping centers and other regional attractions. Practically the only thing one could spend money on was at the night clubs, where cognac and beer could be had for a handful of francs.

This map was likely published as a fold out in a guide given to soldiers arriving on leave and would have included information on the logistics of their stay in France and “sensitivity training” to help become acclimated to the culture. Note Old Nice is shaded in red and listed as “Off Limits” – one can only speculate what trouble could be had there for an American G.I.!

Map Details

Publication Date: 1945

Author: Henry Billings

Sheet Width (in): 22

Sheet Height (in): 17

Condition: A-

Condition Description: The map is in excellent condition, with some wear along fold lines.